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i'm asking you, don't misan extraordinary look at a committed, wildly impressive ç american doing something, living a life no one has before. that's "hardball" for now. with thanks for being with us. more politics ahead with congresswoman gabrielle giffords talked for the first time. asked for toast with her breakfast. the house leadership leader talked today with the president of the united states. >> what happened last night. >> we're not going to be perfect every day. >> this is not the way house republican leaders hoped their day would begin. >> the house has failed to extend three key provisions of the patriot act. >> we've been in the majority four weeks. >> instead of empty speeches about pressuring the president on spending cuts, house leaders
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had to explain being out flanked by the taer party republicans they embraced. >> it wasn't just tea party, it was the president's own party thwarting him a little with the patriot act. >> big believer in the tea party. >> and procedure requiring two-thirds majority for passage. >> they fell seven votes short. >> i think our republican colleagues are struggling with the burden of leadership. >> embarrassed, republican leaders head off to the white house. >> boehner, cantor, and mccarthy. >> then republicans reveal some of the cuts they want to make. >> go after abortion, now food for women and children, none of which do anything to create jobs. >> we're doing exactly what we said we would do. >> how can we be serious about cutting spending when your spending proposals are a flee or a dog's [ bleep ].
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>> i cannot emphasize how small that number is and how devastating depriving poor people of food is. >> we need to cut spending. these guys are a joke, let's be honest. >> house republicans explain away problems governing. how will they explain this. >> i believe he is a muslim. >> do they believe what steve king will try?ç and how republicans are having trouble dealing with the west wing, things are looking up for the east wing. >> he is not smoking now. >> i am proud he kicked the habit. i have seen that positive momentum. we fundamentally started shifting the conversation in this country, and that's been a very good thing. >> good evening from new york. i'm lawrence o'donnell. it was rough day for house republicans. two hours ago, chris lee announced he was resigning his seat immediately. earlier today, a report surfaced on gawker claiming the married
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congressman answered an ad on craigslist in one of the women seeking men forums. we will have more on that later. and just hours earlier, republicans lost another vote in the house. a bill that would have taken back $179 million from the un tax equalization fund, failed on the floor, 31 votes short of passing. that marks the third loss for republicans in the house this week, and it is only wednesday. republicans plan to finalize a continuing resolution tomorrow to cut $32 billion in government spending. a topic that came up in today's lunch meeting at the white house. the meeting with president obama, william daley, and the three house republicans lasted over an hour. it focused mainly on the economy. three house republicans lasted over an hour. it focused mainly on the economy. all parties involved came out making optimistic sounds about bipartisanship.
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>> he thought it was very constructive. >> whether it is education, whether it is tax policy, whether it's trade, or even cutting spending, i think we can find common ground. >> i guess the particulars in the details will be where the disagreements may lie. >> but the republican leadership's disagreements may not be only with democrats.ç joining me now, msnbc analyst and author of revival, richard wolf. richard, the meeting today in the white house, was there any possibility of any real governing decisions being made there? >> no, my sources tell me they stuck to generalities and stuck to what is essentially a high stakes poker game. the white house does not want to put a cause out on the table. they want to see what republicans put out there in terms of specifics as the package run at the top of the show suggested. those specifics are ugly. they do not promote job growth, they go after very popular
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programs, programs that people can identify and put a human face to. so cutting these things are not political winners, even though they broadly agree, both sides agree, on the importance of bringing down the deficit over the long term. >> their cuts are not political winners, and they are not enough for the tea partiers who campaigned on the notion that they are going to be able to cut much, much, much more than that in the first year. where does this leave republican establishment versus the tea party? >> this is all going to be fought. they already said they're going to extend the debt ceiling. obviously they've got this continuing resolution to come up as well. and that's why i don't actually think anyone in the white house thinks that the 32 billion or whatever the number is now is going to hold. it is going to get higher and higher, it's going to have to be scaled back. but in the end, the numbers are minimal compared to the kind of deficit problems that everyone says we have to deal with. so unless you put taxes on the table, that's a much tougher thing.
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never mind about the billions in spending cuts. unless you deal with taxes and entitlements, you are not going tow deal with it. that's where it gets tricky for tea party folks. >> seems they couldn't have had a worse start to lose three bills in a row, to lose on any bills at the outset is a message to your own caucus that the leadership does not have control of what's going on here. we can vote any way we want. >> well, some basic head scratchers here. why bring these votes, successive votes under special ç rules that require big majorities. why do you think democrats will be with you when you made it clear you want to bring down the president and make sure the democrats are embarrassed. so basic vote counting and strategies has everyone puzzled. it comes down to authority. if you lose like this right off the bat, if you can't control your own caucus, what kind of authority do you have, because
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people come back and do it again and again. that's what we've seen. they have to get their ranks together, otherwise the majority is only in name. >> and speaker boehner seems not only not able to control the tea party, he doesn't seem to understand what it is. on our cincinnati radio station yesterday, boehner was asked if he is a member of the tea party, and he said i should be. i don't know if i actually pay dues, but i'm a big believer in the tea party. is that the best he can do when he's got a tea party he's trying to control? is that the kind of answer he's going to give about the tea party? >> i am sure he believes in the tooth fairy, too. but it is not going to go far in terms of what the tea party was put in congress to do. they have to deal with things like the debt ceiling. they have already taken it off the table. whatever concessions they get will not be enough, and they
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have unleashed this beast. it is going to be very hard to tame it again. >> turns out the tea party is harder to handle than boehner will be. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, lawrence. seven tea party republicans joined with liberal democrats last night, liberal democrats, to defeat the extension of three provisions of the patriot act. joining me now to discuss his new alliance with the tea party, democratic congressman dennis kucinich of ohio, consistent proponent of the entire patriot act. thank you for joining us. >> thank you very much. good to be with you. >> did you see this coming? there's a lot of libertarian rhetoric on the campaign trail for tea partiers, but were you surprised to see them actually vote this way on the patriot act? >> no. j to be republicans who be libertarian, tea party adhere and the, and they are serious about reaching deeply into people's private affairs.
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i think that this is very refreshing. so whatever someone's ideology, whether standing up for the constitution, they see it as an issue of freedom and there's an alliance, maybe here for this bill, but there is an alliance. >> you put out a statement praising those tea party members. you spoke of a potential for a new coalition. did you mean that? do you think there are actually other possibilities where liberals in the house can work with tea partiers in the house? >> i think you're going to see that reflected on the next attempt to try to pass the patriot act, which could get a majority as early as tomorrow. but let's go beyond that. votes on funding wars, i think the issues of spending are starting to hit home in a number of constituencies, and they're asking questions beyond the question of how many troops we have there, how many we've lost, how many civilian casualties, they're asking what does it cost.
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and you will see a number of libertarians and tea party types that are going to say look, we just can't afford this any more, and there's a question about how america keeps reaching into other people's affairs. questions like ron paul asked over and over and over again in a series of congresses. now he is finding more company in his own party. >> the white house is not happy with this vote outcome in the house. listen to what robert gibbs had to say. >> we support an even longer extension to take any of the uncertainty around extending these out past -- out into 2013 rather than the 8th of december of this year, and we hope that that gets figured out soon. >> is it your sense that the white house is secretly happy to see republicans failing procedurally on the house floor, even on something that the white house wants eventually to be passed, and as you're acknowledging will be able to ç eventually be passed once they're using a different
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procedure? >> it is interesting to watch the white house on this issue and other issues. they are outflanking the right wing. so if you go far enough right, you're bound to come around in a circle to the left. so maybe that's their strategy. >> congressman, is there any message you would want to give the white house about how to reconsider issues like the patriot act? because in the past, democrats have said well, you know, in effect, politically we've got to do it because if we don't, we'll be attacked on our right side. if you have republicans who would in effect be defending that side of you, along with liberals voting on the same thing, isn't there room for the white house to rethink their positions on some of these things? >> of course there is. this is about the constitution. i think it would behoove the white house to align itself with the constitution. that's a very strong position to take. and that's what i talked about yesterday. the people from the tea party
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take the first amendment seriously, right of free speech, they take the fourth amendment seriously, right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. these are things that the white house would i think find even more support if it chose to align itself with the constitution of the united states. >> congressman dennis kucinich, the new ally of the tea party in the house of representatives. thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. good to be here. a focus group of republican voters in iowa have harsh criticism of the president for his handling of the egypt crisis. many of those voters don't trust president obama because they think he's muslim. steve king, a republican congressman from iowa joins me next to explain why his constituents are so wrong. on the eve of cpac, a family values crisis hits the republican party. chris lee abruptly resigned after this photo of him surfaced. a photo he allegedly sent responding to an ad on craigslist.
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a republican focus group in iowa reveals how many republicans believe the lie that the president is a muslim.ç i'll ask iowa republican congressman steve king why his constituent are so wrong about the president's religion. and later, breaking news on capitol hill tonight. conservative republican congressman christopher lee has resigned after news broke that he allegedly responded to an ad on craigslist with shirtless photos of himself.
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while bill o'reilly was interrupting the president 72 times during his two part, nonhistory making, nonnews making presuper bowl interview, he asked the president about the muslim brotherhood and its connections to the protests in egypt. to keep things fair and balanced, sean hannhdy got a roomful of republicans in iowa to analyze president obama's answer. >> i believe that president obama's religious believes do govern his foreign policy. >> what are his religious believes? >> i believe he is a muslim. >> you do? >> yes. >> how many of you believe that here? wow. you believe he's a muslim. >> yes. >> you think that has an impact on what he says and does? >> fundamentally, yes. >> jack? >> i do, also. >> i think it is quite possible he is muslim, even though he
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says he is christian, but i think that this type of rhetoric, he's waffling on both sides. >> let's focus on his presidential, how he communicates when it comes to foreign policy and his policies. shouldn't we be backing the president? isn't that the loyal thing to do? >> no, he is nevil chamberlain in 1939. he is an appeaser and he will lead us down a path of destruction if we are not careful. >> why would you roomful of iowa republicans think the president is muslim? well, with congressmen in iowa like republican steve king. >> to embarrass the administration into enforcing a law, particularly with regard to immigration. >> he is a marxist, he surely understands the muslim culture. he doesn't have an american experience. he does not have an american experience.
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>> joining me now, iowa congressman steve king. thanks for joining me tonight. >> thanks for having me, lawrence. i think it is interesting coincidence that 72 times that president obama interrupted republicans at the healthcare summit. bill o'reilly must have gotten even for that day. >> the healthcare summit was about 7 hours long, i think, congressman, a little different. congressman, i want to go back to the tape we just showed. i am not sure you had good enough audio to hear every word of it, but you lived it.ç you were in a constituent's meeting, and one of your constituents said he doesn't have american experience. you said -- this is what you said about the president of the united states. he doesn't have an american experience. he does not have an american experience and the constituent then said to you he didn't grow up in america. congressman, where did barack obama grow up? >> well, by his own reports, he
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spent a lot of his early formative years in indonesia. >> how many? how many years? >> five or six years in indonesia, perhaps longer. pardon me? >> then where did he live? >> then he moved to hawaii, which is in america. >> my question is you know more than your constituent about a lot of things, and you know more than constituents about barack obama. why didn't you say he grew up in hawaii? why couldn't you bring yourself to say that? >> there's a contradiction of the facts. very formative years, from age five to nine or ten. >> he grew up in hawaii. >> i don't think there's any question, part of his upbringing was in hawaii. >> do you have any doubt whether he is a christian? >> i think that is up to the president, but i will tell you that i would not present him as anything other than that. it is his religion. that's what he said. in fact, when he gave a speech in cairo last year -- he said he was a christian.
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>> are you a christian? >> yes, sir. >> should i take you at your word or should i maybe suspect you're a muslim. do you have a christian id you can show me and prove you're a christian? >> i think i was going to ask you not to judge as i am not judging president obama. >> do you have a christian id? >> no one has a christian id. >> catholics get birth certificates, get baptist mal certificates. there are some religions that issue certificates of certain kinds. do you have any? >> i don't think i do. i have a serve baptism. >> how do we know you are not a muslim?ç how do you know someone is not a muslim and is a christian? >> as i said to bring us back around full circle, the president stood in cairo and spoke to the muslim world and professed to be a christian. if he will stand in front of the muslim world and make that statement, i take him at his word. i don't question his religion. i will say that the criticism of his religion seems to have
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accelerated his church going, and i think that's a good thing. >> do you think the kind of meeting you had with your constituent help clarify for them the president's religion, or helps confuse them to the point that 40%, 40% of a republican focus group in your state is completely wrong about the president being a muslim? >> well, i saw a poll in the examiner today that showed 46% of republicans believe that. so i was submit it's not a republican problem, this is the president's problem. i mean, he has done some to dispel this, but not completely. >> republicans believe the world is flat, is that a republican problem or a geography problem? >> if you listen, the president went to cairo and gave a speech. he said to the people in cairo, and he went to speak to the muslim world, that's how he presented it. he said he's a christian. but he also said he grew up in
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three continents with exposure to the muslim culture and he is familiar with the muslim culture. he also talked about the call to prayer. so he reached out and he reminded them of his middle name. the president has done not a lot to dispel this thing that i think is a myth. i think it is the president's problem, not a republican problem. >> when jfk gave a speech about the berlin wall, did people in iowa think he was german? >> of course not. >> why not? people in iowa think he is a muslim because of a speech he gave in cairo? >> i am talking about the content and purpose of the speech. >> if he gave a speech addressed to germans, as other presidents have done, one was the berlin wall, wouldn't you think the president is then german?ç >> of course not. >> why not. that seems to be the logic that prevails among your constituents. >> what if he said my name is
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john fitzgerald kennedy, not barack, mention my name, obama. he made a point to mention his middle name in cairo, talk about his upbringing in the muslim culture. so that helps to perpetuate the idea that he has a close affiliation with the muslim religion. >> did you think when you meet with your constituent and don't explain the truth about the president that you are also complicit in perpetuating this lie? >> how about i didn't want to have an argument in that scenario, lawrence. >> what about an argument about the truth? it is your duty to argue with your constituents about the truth. >> and with you. and i do do that. but you can't pick every fight. you have to pull that out of context. you're in a meeting. we had a lot of angry people. they wanted their freedom.
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they didn't want barack obama taking their liberty and imposing obama care on them. that's the emotion behind that station. they're looking for every argument that protects their liberty and i am pledged to uphold the constitution and protect their liberty, that's what this is about. >> i will ask you this favor for america. next time your constituents talk to you like that, would you please treat it the way john mccain treated it in the campaign when we saw in a live television situation a woman say something like that to john mccain and he said no, that's not true. you can do that for us, congressman, you can do it for this country and for your constituents. get it on videotape and we will show it here. >> i will ask you, go back and read the president's speech in cairo. that will give awe sense of what he's doing that helps move this myth along. and if he will pull back from that a little bit, i'll see if i can move a little that direction. we can come together. >> just asking to tell the truth, congressman. congressman, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. ç
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what impact will the sudden resignation of conservative congressman christopher lee have on the republican party. we will discuss that and see how it will play at the cpac conference that starts tomorrow. and we showed you right here on this program how bill o'reilly interrupted president obama 72 times. but after we took our shot, the late night shows got their turn at o'reilly. that's up next. 's the little ths that you don't think about. people think of the food, they think of housing, but no one thinks: "how are you going to wash your clothes?" i brought towels, blankets. socks. sheets and pillowcases. [ man ] you just don't feel human without clean clothes. [ female announcer ] tide loads of hope is a free laundry service that provides clean clothes for families affected by disasters. together we can provide loads of hope. visit us on facebook to see our efforts in haiti.
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later, michelle obama and
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how she wants you to see her, and what she doesn't want her daughters to see. but first, a final bit of analysis of bill o'reilly's interview with president obama. >> we took the sound from the new clips of the interview and we combined it with an old episode of the smurfs.ç >> last question before i let you go. the president see and the obama, talks about the obama administration, a little rocky history. i sincerely want to know what can i do better, what can fnc do better. >> give people the facts. >> i would say there's a strong history in america of all news having some sort of point of view, and fox news has a point of view, and i think that's part of our democracy. >> and you respect it? >> absolutely. >> does it disturb you that so many people hate you? >> you don't take it personally. >> they hate you. coming up, this is allegedly a picture of conservative congressman chris lee of western new york.
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he allegedly sent the picture in response to an ad on craigslist describing himself as a fit, fun, classy guy. within hours of that story breaking online, congressman lee resigned his seat without offering a single word of defense. we'll bring you the full story as we know it at this hour next. and in tonight's rewrite, the target is me. what i should not have said about professional football players. for those of us who have lactose intolerance, let's raise a glass to cookies just out of the oven. to the morning bowl of cereal. and to lactaid® milk. easy to digest and with all the calcium
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revelation to resignation on the record, 2 hours, 27 minutes. in the spotlight tonight, the fastest moving capitol hill sex scandal ever. tonight, christopher lee who resigned -- no, wait a minute, not that christopher lee. new york republican congressman christopher lee resigned just before 6:00 p.m.
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>> i here by give notice of my seat in the united states house of representatives effective 5:00 p.m., wednesday, february 9, 2011. attached is a letter i sent to governor cuomo, signed sincerely, christopher j. lee, member of congress. >> the story broke. with the story, gawker uncovered this picture allegedly of lee. in the age of photo shop, we have to use that allegedly at this point. shirtless, flexing for a 34-year-old maryland woman. in their email conversation, lee allegedly uses his own name, says he is a divorced lobbyist, and quote, a fit, fun, classy guy, which he obviously is.
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although looking classy is a challenge for any of us while shirtless. in one note, he also says, quote, i promise not to disappoint. the emails say he is 39 years old when in fact he's 46. why would you lie about being 36 when you're not in show business is beyond me. a spokesperson for boehner says it was lee's decision to resign. in his farewell statement, he ç worked with congressmen that are completely guilty of everything they have been accused of. i regret the harm my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituent. i deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. i have made profound mistakes and i promise to work as hard as i can to seek their forgiveness. let me be the first to forgive congressman lee. joining me now, dana milbank of the "the washington post." dana, i haven't checked every
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single sex scandal in the history of the body. we haven't had time. we've run-down most of them. did we set a record today at 2 hours, 27 minutes for that resignation? >> it was the land speed record from moment it was posted until i believe 5:58 when the clerk head it on the floor. this is the internet age scandal. and it is extraordinary. think about it. many people in congress have done far worse and they're still in congress. you know, think of david vitter being in the book, or john ensign having his folks pay off his mistress. here you have a guy who didn't actually do anything as far as we know, there's just a photograph out there. so it suggests, and what he said in his statement, there were actions, plural, and mistakes, plural, there must be a whole lot out there. and i think that gives us some clues as to why he resigned. certainly not because he just
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lied about his age. he actually said he was blonde, it is gray. i think the most scandal us thing was he said he was a lobbyist. >> nice upgrade for the occupation when trying to impress someone. you know, listen, i think forgiveness is what we're good at in this country. i want to be the first to officially forgive him. good luck with the wife on this one, congressman, getting her forgiveness, but the speed of the resignation is usually based on what is your district like, can you survive this.ç and we have seen liberal districts in massachusetts where congressmen have survived worse as you would think, and then what do you want to put your family through while you're trying to survive this. and it seems to me he made a calculation about both his district and his family, and i, for one, certainly respect him keeping this damage to a minimum for his family. >> well, he did. he had a couple of models to work with here. he was under extra pressure
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because as a conservative republican, there's always the hypocrisy argument. but it was a fairly safe republican district. so that's not necessarily the only thing going on here. i suspect he looked at other cases. eric massa, he lived in the district next to this district, he made a calculation and decided to fight it out and became a national laughing stock. another resigned quickly over this affair with an aide. and we don't kind of remember his name as well. you can look, mark foley tried to push back, he became a disaster. so i think he is calculating that with the quick revelation of this, maybee can get away with just one night on the last word and get away with it. >> he just might. he just might. and this is kind of as those kinds of photos go on the internet not that i'm an expert, it is on the conservative side. i mean, those wants are in place, right? i mean, come on. you see more than that at the
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beach. >> i mean, this is true, you know. i think the question here is judgment now. he got into this situation where he said look, i was just re-elected.e7wr> there are no shirtless photos of me after college.ç dana milbank, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. first lady michelle obama was slammed by conservatives by wearing communist red to a state dinner. coming up, we'll discuss the politics of clothing. and on monday to a nation recovering from the super bowl, from this pulpit i delivered a sermon on the evil of sports socialism.
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i will take back some of those words in tonight's rewrite.
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on the today show this morning, michelle obama was asked about her efforts to combat childhood obesity. but no matter her substantive efforts, the first lady will always be judged on style, that's later. next in the rewrite, i will revise and extend my remarks on sports socialism. [ male announcer ] one look can turn the everyday into romantic. ♪
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time for tonight's rewrite, and it is time once again time to rewrite myself. i've been bothered all week by something i said in this space monday night in my hate filled attack on sports socialism. i really, really hate sports socialism, and wrote my first attack on it 15 years ago. i hate, hate that football players' salaries are paid for partially with your tax dollars. i hate it because tax money pays for the stadiums. the owners and players laugh all the way to the bank with inflated incomes that would be millions less if they were not the direct beneficiaries of sports socialism. if the nfl had to pay for their stadiums, the $50 million quarterback would have to get, you know, maybe 10 million. the $10 million player would have to get by on maybe $7 million. and those lowly million players, they are all starving already, it wouldn't make much difference
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to them. the day after the super bowl when you let all of that hatred stir in the same small brain that clings to the vietnam eery lefty analysis of football, as the most deliberately violent and mill tar is particularly designed support, highly compatible and supportive of the most mill tar is particular country in the world, a sport whose rise mirrors not just coincidentally the rise at the very same time of the american military industrial complex, you get one very angry lefty sitting down to write about football for his tv show that night. as i've said here before, there is good socialism, medicare. and there is bad socialism, football stadiums.ç as a good socialist, it falls to me to defend good socialism and attack bad socialism.
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but both should be done with grace. something that eluded me monday night. i was so taken with the bill maher joke that i quoted it in my first sentence. he calls professional football, quote, the spectacle of juiced up millionaires getting brain damage. i went onto use the phrase juiced up millionaires three more times and squeezed in the brain damage bit once more at the end. bill, the professional comedian said it once. me, trying to be the wise guy, i pushed it way past the point of, i don't know, human decency. brain damage? very funny. the only article i can remember writing for my high school newspaper that required actual reporting was about the inadequacy of football helmets, and how everyone playing the game was unknowingly risking brain damage.
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my high school football coach didn't like the piece very much. he thought it indicated that maybe i was not willing to give 110%. which i wasn't. with my head anyway. which is why i was a wide receiver and never had to hit anyone. during this past football season, the "the new york times" caught up with my high school newspaper many decades later and ran the only pulitzer award winning series i have seen in the sports section about the inadequacy of football helmets and the proven tragedy of brain damage that haunts the nfl. too many good men, vibrant men ruined by playing a game they loved. not funny. juiced up millionaires? bill maher said it once. i said it four times. if you're going to describe football players, four times, elemental creativity demands you
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find more than one phrase to do it.ç i had too much fun with that phrase and i don't think anyone else did. an msnbc friend called me after the show said i went too far, crossed the line, and i knew it was true the second i heard it. then a couple of other friends told me the same thing. last night, a couple more friends told me. i finally realized i had to say something about it. i am very sorry that i used language in a not entirely comedic setting that was unfair and cruel. it was unfair not just to all nfl players, but to all professional athletes who suffer stereotyping because of the bad behavior of some of their co-workers. my father was a boston cop before going to law school nights and becoming a lawyer. two occupations that suffer stair i don't see typing. here is what he wasn't when he was a cop. a racist, brutal, or on the take. here is what he wasn't when he was a lawyer. a liar, a crook, or a cheat.
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his son owed you something better monday night. to the wives of the nfl, to their sons and daughters, and to all professional athletes from jackie robinson on who have contributed so mightily to our history and to our growth as a nation, i'm sorry. trouble getting around,
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you know what's on there, your style. frustrating or compliment? >> i take it as a compliment. it is not something that i focus on. >> you are who you are, let people decide what they want? >> yeah, everybody's got to get dressed in the morning, put on something.
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i hope people are -- find it nice. but it's not something i focus on. >> in her new book about the fashion influence of michelle obama, author kate bets says, quote, our first ladies highlight the on-going evolution of american women. but for first ladies, there's always a tension between style and substance. first lady ross lynn carter sat in on cabinet meetings later writing she could never sit and drink coffee and talk about babies and clothes, but said mrs. carter image became a nuisance that wouldn't go away. so what is the state of the modern american woman if michelle obama is as kate betts puts it the symbol of the country's psychological sub text, its emotional undertone. joining me now, kate betts. thanks for joining me.
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>> thanks for having me. >> tell us the story of how michelle obama went from business woman to campaign wife to then first lady mother in chief. how did she make that transition? >> well, it was pretty quick. on the campaign trail, she started off in these pinstripe corporate board room suits as the working mom, the career woman. and then seemingly overnight i think it might have been even been on the jay leno show when she showed up in a j. crew the nation's hostess. >> actors will tell you they find a lot of the part in the wardrobe, just actually getting into those clothes makes them feel the way they're supposed to feel in that position. do you think that happens in these transitions women have to go through when their husbands become candidates and reach
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higher and higher levels? >> i think actually michelle obama did that in advance before she got to the white house, and that was a very smart move on her part. and then she also developed this sort of pattern of always surprising us with her clothing. i mean, i remember there was mention of her going to the white house to meet with the bushes, and wore a bright red krim son dress, very form fitting, very look at me, i'm in charge now. so i think she really eased the transition into the white house and continues to sort of tell her story through her style in the white house. >> she faced a unique challenge, becoming first lady, and actually as presidential candidate, nominee's wife, being the first african-american. you write what might have been seen as refreshing, during the campaign, what might have been seen as refreshing maverick candor in a white political figure struck some people as
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confrontational. did she have a problem presenting herself in the campaign, unique problem because she's african-american? >> i think that people in the beginning of the campaign, she made a few stump speeches people thought were too strong and she was criticized for that. and i think she was very cleverr and i talk about this in my book in using her image to transform. i mean, she also softened campaign speeches, but used her image to soften herself, and she adapted a much more motherly image, became the mom in chief. and it is interesting that you mention roslyn carter, in her memoir, hillary clinton talked ç about the americans wanting the first lady to be glamorous and motherly. and it is a very tough dual personality for the first lady to adopt, but it's true. we want her to be on the steps in a gorgeous us gown, but we
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also want her to be -- it persists. that's what americans see the first lady as. >> mrs. carter's quote comes from your book. your book covers more than just michelle obama, you talk about many first ladies in here. what does michelle obama have to learn, what has she learned from hillary clinton's experience, which is the other model we have of lawyer, law school graduate becoming first lady? >> well, i think she learned immediately not to move into the west wing, stay in the east wing. >> not do policy. >> not that i think michelle obama was interested in doing that, but she stayed very clear of that. in fact, it is interesting to note the first year she was in the white house, she didn't even really ever say anything. we really only got into her only anti-obesity campaign after a year. and so -- >> there is a distinction there. what she's doing is advocacy.
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she is not talking about passing laws and writing anti-obesity legislation. sarah palin exaggerates as if michelle obama is going to order people to do something through some sort of first lady executive power. but advocacy is something that the first lady has always, in the modern version, done many times. >> that's heroic. >> lady bird johnson started an advocacy about litter, for example. >> exactly. i think that michelle obama is trying to gain awareness for this issue, and i think she'll probably come on even stronger with that in the years to come. >> will we see a different michelle obama when she goes into campaign mode again, re-election campaign mode? >> different, i don't know. i hope she'll continue with her style and her fashion, i think that's what keeps people watching her. and once she has our attention, she delivers her message, and it is a very clever way of manipulating the public that waç and getting them to pay attention to her. >> first lady watcher, kate betts. the book is "every day icon".

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The Last Word
MSNBC February 10, 2011 3:00am-4:00am EST

News/Business. Current issues and news stories.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 13, Michelle Obama 13, Cairo 7, Iowa 7, America 5, Boehner 5, Christopher Lee 5, Hawaii 4, Steve King 4, New York 3, Lawrence 3, Chris Lee 3, Kate Betts 3, Obama 3, Indonesia 2, Berlin 2, Plural 2, Fun 2, Barack Obama 2, Nfl 2
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